Which should I teach a student first?
Rhythm guitar or Lead guitar?
Or should I focus on Rhythm but throw in lead techniques here and there?

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There is no such thing as "rhythm vs lead".

Guitar is guitar, as a teacher you should make that clear from the outset - start at the beginning with open chords. They're the easiest way to get a pleasing sound out of the guitar, easiest way to get playing songs, good for building finger strength and getting used to the feel of the instrument. Not to mention they're the backbone of all guitar music.
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well think of it this way, when a band plays live, does the lead player stand around with a thumb up his ass when he isnt playing a solo?
I mean isn't lead based off of rhythm? I usually start with chords (which would be rhythm I guess), and we'll work our way to learning scales and keys and lead licks. that being said I don't make a distinction unless the student is leanring a song with multiple guitarists, and wants to figure out which parts to pick from when arranging it for one guitar.
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There is no such thing as "rhythm vs lead".


I, personally, don't think of it separately, and don't teach it separately. Guitar is guitar.

...you'll probably want to start with open chords anyway though...
Start him off right with some basic theory. Speaks the mind through the strings.
When I was taught my teacher taught me a little theory, taught me the E, A, F#m, and D chords, and taught me how to play a song on the first day. I took the four chords home and practiced them with a few songs. He didn't teach me lead for months. For me, lead guitar came after I began to enjoy and seriously play guitar. I'd start him off with chords (from personal experience).
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I think a total beginner is best off learning an easy riff or 2 and the basic chords. The easy riff so they actually can say YES i can play something. And the chords because well.... Ding.

As for theory... gotta crawl before you can fly a helicopter. It is gonna mean squat to them now, so save that for a little later when it will actually mean something.

As the student gets a little bit better then you enlarge their horizons. Basically you want to ground them in technique so a little bit of lead, picking, and rhythm, that way you enable them to find their own particular talent without shirking on the basics.
yep, guitar is guitar. teach him the notes of the fretboard, chords and basic theory first.
Lead = rhytmn shifted up by (an) octave(s) and the speed of the notes played potentially changed

If you can do a fast C major riff for rhytmn, you can almost surely solo a fast C major riff in solo format on your higher strings/frets
I wouldn't say it's necessarily lead vs. rhythm, but the two are different in certain ways. Still, a strong foundation is paramount, so establishing a solid rhythm and giving them good practice habits will set them up to learn blazing solos later when they know what they're doing and why. Nothing worse than somebody rushing themselves and soloing in abstract time signatures while a band struggles to figure out what the hell the tempo is supposed to be.
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The first thing new students need to be taught, in order, are:

1) how to tune the guitar
--the teacher should also check the action/setup and make sure it's reasonable and help fix it if not
2) How to fret open chords and power chords
3) How to count time, tap your foot in time, and strum in time
4) A basic song of interest to the student
5) The names of the notes on the 6th and 5th strings up to the 12th fret (as homework)

"Lead" playing is a long ways off.
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melbay start book(chord and melody mix) 2 months >>
abne rousi(melody and chord mix) 4-5 months >>
troy stetina rhythm and lead guitar 1 4 months >>
troy stetina rhythm and lead guitar2 2 months>>
troy stetina speed mechanic for lead guitar+frank gambale speed picking+john petrucci rock discipline >>
start giving your student covering projects+recording previous stetina books' solos on real tempo>>
tell him to go and start a band

for theory i suggest troy stetina fretboard mastery(after telling him all theory basics)
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